Prefaceo single volume to date has yet collected all six thousand years of Arcanums recorded history. Indeed, many would argue that it is impossible to approach such a Gargantuan subject within the covers of a single book! When I was a younger man, it was my burning ambition to write the definitive history of all Arcanum, but I never imagined for a moment that it was possible to do so in a simple or concise manner. Instead I labored for many decades, traveling from place to place in my researches, and produced no fewer than twenty-three detailed volumes which I dared to call "The Compleat Histories". Alas, the fiery arrogance of youth! I now believe that compiling the entire history of Arcanum in any great detail is a task well beyond the reach of any one manand what is more, it is a task which will become more difficult with every passing year. In my travels, I have had occasion to sift through many of the worlds great libraries and scriptoriums, searching always for the most ancient books, scrolls, and tablets which were still legible. Arcanums history revealed itself to me slowly, showing first one face and then another as I spent weeks, months, and even years in transcription and translation. But for every precious source document which had been recorded on a sturdy clay tablet, a sheaf of hammered gold, or a roll of soft vellum, there were a hundred papyri which were as dry and fragile as old leaves, and a hundred more which had half-crumbled into illegible fragments. The millennia of knowledge contained therein were in imminent danger of being lost foreverand in some cases, they were lost before I ever arrived. Both the elvish and dwarven races are possessed of rich oral histories, which chronicle events even more remote and arcane than those recorded by their scribes but these oral traditions are hard to come by for those outside the appropriate race and culture, and Ive rarely been privy to them. Perhaps that is best, as the line between fact and myth grows less clear the further one looks behind, and the transcription of oral histories is more properly the work of a folklorist than an historian. Whenever possible, I have always attempted to keep my own chronicles well-grounded in fact, erring on the side of discretion rather than speculation or untoward credulity; over the years Ive found that its rather easier to believe a well-told and dramatic story that it is prove that story true! Arcanum Players Guide 1
Lately a number of new scientific theories have been put forward as to the history of Arcanums civilized peoples. Contrary to what one may assume after reading the arguments of Mr. John Beddoes, it was in fact the elves and the dwarves who first reached what we might consider "civility", thousands of years ago: it is from these elder races that the first true historical traditions can be traced. Gnomish culture appears to be quite a bit younger than either of these, although the lack of recorded historical documents made available to human researchers might be attributed to the secretive nature of their society. Human development, by contrast, appears to have been much slower: only in the last two thousand years have humans produced any significant cultural Art and Literature. Of course there are exceptions to these general rules--but prior to a few thousand years ago, most of humanity seems to have consisted of little more than illiterate nomadic tribes, barbarian hordes, and cave-dwelling hunter-gatherers. One cannot speak about the recent history of Arcanum without addressing the growing dichotomy between Magick and what has come to be known as Technology. My research has shown to me a direct correlation between the widespread use of these two Forces, and increased levels of societal development. Are not the elves the true discoverers of Magick--or, as Beddoes has suggested, the eldest children of the Magickal Age? Were the dwarves not the fathers of the Technological tradition, centuries before the advent of Mr. Bates and his steam engines? Humans, it seems, have now inherited the scientific legacy of the dwarvesand does it not appear that we are now poised for what might be called a Golden Age of cultural expansion and hegemony? This simple volume, in painting a clear picture of the past, might also shed some light on what we can expect in the years to come. A wise man once said that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it; to this I will add that Todays "future" is simply Tomorrows "history" waiting to be born. I also believe that if we are to have any clear notion of where we are going, we must know from whence we have come, and what has gone before us. It is to this end that I have condensed all I know of Arcanum into a single volume, which I hope will find favor with readers from all walks of life.
Foreword to A Brief History of Arcanum
Dr. Julius M. CrenshawDepartment of History Tarant University
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Chapter 1: IntroductionThe following is excerpted from the Principia Technologica, re-printed here with permission of the publisher, Tarant University Press, and the author. 1876 all rights reserved.
Principia Technologicabeing the collected lectures of
Sir Harris GuffingfordA Helpful Illustration of the Principles of Science
Chapter the Fourth: On the Eternal Conflict Between Natural and Supernatural Forcesp to this point, our experiments have served only to illustrate the principles of Natural Law. The purpose of the exercises in this chapter, however, is to demonstrate the fundamental conflict between Natural Law and its nemesis, Supernatural LawNatural Law being represented by a variety of simple Technological Devices, while Supernatural Law is embodied by an equally simple Magickal Device. Like all our experiments, these exercises were chosen for their lucid design and straightforward execution; they should prove suitable for students of all ages.
Laboratorie #1: The Inclined Planes you may recall, we have demonstrated the Inclined Plane and explained its uses in a previous lesson. This is a simple machine, the purpose of which is to reduce the difficulty of moving objects from place to place. Even the simplest country farmer understands the uses of this device: it is always easier to push a heavy load down a ramp than it is to push the same load across even
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ground! There are two principles of Natural Law at work, but the one that concerns us most in this experiment is known as "the Coefficient of Friction". Here we place an object upon the Inclined Plane: for purposes of this experiment, we have chosen a simple block of stone. Note that when the Inclined Plane C is placed at a sharp angle, Block A will automatically begin to slide down the Plane, without any extra Force being applied. Remember the farmers load upon the ramp; if the ramp is steep, he does not need to push the cart at all. It will roll down of its own accord.
There is some innate resistance to its motion down the Plane; this resistance to motion is what we call the Coefficient of Friction. On the other hand, Block A will not slide of its own accord if our Inclined Plane is given a lesser angle. There is some innate resistance to its motion down the Plane; this resistance to motion is what we call the Coefficient of Friction. The lower this Coefficient, the smaller the angle of the Plane must be, in order to make the Block slide. Begin the experiment with your Inclined Plane at its most acute angle, nearly flat upon the table. Take Block A, and place it on Inclined Plane C: note that the Block does not slide. Having observed this high Coefficient of Friction, tilt Inclined Plane C slowly, a few degrees at a time, until that Friction is overcome, and your Block does begin to slide. Having now found the precise angle necessary for the Block to slide of its own accord, lower the angle of the Plane by a degree or two. We have now established a precarious balance, in which the Coefficient of Friction is only just high enough to overcome the angle of the Plane. The aforementioned Coefficient is almost, but not quite, low enough to allow Block A to slide.
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Introduce a Magickal Artifacte into the system. Slowly bring it into the vicinity of Inclined Plane C. Notice that Block A begins to slide haltingly downward! The angle of the Plane has not changed, nor has the nature of the blockbut the Magickal Artifacte slightly alters the Coefficient of Friction in its immediate proximity. This alteration is unstable and unpredictable, causing the Block to slide in a variable manner. It is this same unpredictability and instability in all Magickal Effects which makes compensation for these Effects on a machine impossible. Even a small change in the Coefficient of Friction can and will cause gears to grind, belts to break, and cogs to catch and stickwith disastrous consequences!
Laboratorie #2: The Swinging Pendulumhe principle of the Pendulum was discovered by early Technologists, as you may recall. It was early established that the period for the back-and-forth Oscillation of any Pendulum of a given Length is always the same, no matter how large its arc or how heavy its bob may be. For this reason, Pendulums make excellent time-keeping devices, as they are less dependent on Temperature Variations than spring-based clocks. Let us start our second experiment, then, with three pendulums. Begin by setting your three Pendulums a-swing: while they are swinging, measure their periods with a Pocket Watch or Water Clock. Our first superficial observation is that the Pendulums with longer rods swing more slowly than those with shorter rods: in fact, the period of any pendulum is mathematically exact, and it can be expressed as a mathematical formula. To find the period, we have only to